They got to Amazon Prime Video, too.

Beginning in early 2024, Prime Video series and movies will include commercials. The core Amazon video-streaming service says it aims to have “meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers.”

Of course, that’s what they all say. And we do mean all — this latest development pretty much just leaves Apple TV+ as the lone major streamer without commercials. We’ll see how long that lasts. (Due to the nature of live sports, Apple’s MLS service and MLB “Friday Night Baseball” add-on package have ads.)

Netflix and other top streamers have been pushing users to ad-supported versions of their services. The average revenue per user (ARPU) on those tiers tends to be a bit higher than on the subscription-only plans. That’s especially the case in poorer countries where consumers are conditioned to sit through a larger ad load to get their entertainment.

Existing Prime Video members will automatically be opted-in to the ad-supported tier and their monthly subscription price will not change. Those who want to remain ad-free will have to pay an extra $2.99 per month in the U.S. Pricing for other countries will come at a later date. So will ads.

At first, subscribers in the U.S., the UK, Germany, and Canada will start to see commercials; “later in the year” ads will migrate to France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Australia. Prime members will be officially notified of the change — and offered the ad-free upgrade — weeks before the ads invade.

A Prime membership — the one that includes the free, fast shipping on online goods — costs $14.99 per month. If you want to remain ad-free, begin to budget $17.98. One can subscribe solely to Prime Video — that option currently runs $8.99 per month. It is currently not clear if the ad-free version will math up to $11.98, but probably.

Amazon kinda-sorta had ads already. Much like the parenthetical Apple example above, Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” has commercials. Prime Video also rolled some marketing ads ahead of content; a “Jack Ryan” spot in front of “Reacher,” for one perfectly synergistic example. (Author’s side note: What a crossover opportunity!)

There was no information available on when the new ads would or would not run within Prime Video. Pre-roll is pretty much a certainty in the business, but interrupting a film is a whole ‘nother ballgame. Some plans on some streamers already commit this sin; others do not. Fingers-crossed for Prime Video to be as selective and careful as its corporate promise above.

Amazon, through its acquisition of MGM, has a whole bunch of movies at its disposal. We’re not sure Artists Equity had visions of a Charmin toilet-paper ad midway through a screening of “Air,” for example. Enjoy the go, you guys.

There will be no changes to Amazon’s FAST service Freevee, we’re told. That one, like its acronym implies, is totally free.

James Marsden (C), Ronald Gladden (R) and the cast of "Jury Duty."
Amazon Prime Video Freevee’s “Jury Duty”Courtesy of Amazon Freevee

Amazon Prime offers free delivery on hundreds of millions of items, which are typically delivered in one or two days. It has free same-day delivery on more than a million items.

Surely, many of those same items will be the consumer products and packaged goods you’ll soon see advertised during an “Upload” binge. How meta. Apple and Amazon were already the two largest companies (by market cap) in the world; their video businesses have pretty much just been side hustles to their respective retail operations.

An Amazon Prime membership gets you Prime Video series and films, access to deals and shopping events (like Prime Day), and Amazon music, which offers ad-free listening to 100 million songs and millions of podcast episodes. There are other ancillary benefits like unlimited photo storage, Prime Gaming, and Prime Reading, among others.

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